GM’s Cruise Robotaxis Being Investigated by NHTSA over Pedestrians in Roadways Incidents

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into General Motors’ Cruise autonomous vehicle division due to reports of incidents involving pedestrian safety on the road. The NHTSA has expressed concerns about the behavior of Cruise autonomous vehicles when encountering pedestrians, especially in areas like crosswalks, where pedestrians are most vulnerable. The agency has highlighted the potential risk of these vehicles striking pedestrians, which could lead to serious injuries or fatalities.

The NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation has revealed that it has received two reports of pedestrian injuries associated with Cruise vehicles. Additionally, two more incidents have been identified through videos posted on public websites. The full extent of the issue remains unknown, prompting the NHTSA to initiate an official investigation on Monday.

In response to these developments, a spokesperson for Cruise, Hannah Lindow, emphasized the company’s strong safety track record, pointing out that their autonomous vehicles have consistently outperformed human drivers over a cumulative distance of 5 million miles. She also stressed Cruise’s commitment to regular communication with the NHTSA and its cooperation in providing requested information, whether linked to an investigation or not.

The NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation has clarified that the purpose of the investigation is to assess the extent and seriousness of the problem. It aims to identify the causal factors related to the behavior of autonomous driving systems (ADS) around pedestrians, including their driving policies and performance. Furthermore, the investigation will thoroughly evaluate the potential safety risks associated with these incidents.

This investigation comes on the heels of a previous incident in which General Motors’ Cruise unit had to reduce its fleet of autonomous vehicles operating in San Francisco. This reduction was requested by the state Department of Motor Vehicles in response to two crashes involving Cruise vehicles in the city. One of these incidents involved a collision between a Cruise vehicle without a human driver and an unspecified emergency vehicle.

The investigation by the NHTSA highlights the growing importance of ensuring the safety of autonomous vehicles, especially in urban areas where they interact closely with pedestrians. The outcome of this investigation will play a significant role in shaping the future of autonomous vehicle regulations and safety standards in the United States.


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